With most of Mzansi’s long weekends behind us, this article might come a bit late. Luckily, you can still look forward to the odd public holiday here and there. How we all wish we were kids again with those four holidays per year and on top of that, not having to worry about something like a budget if you were fortunate enough to have an annual beach breakaway growing up.Reality check. You’re not a kid any more. When planning for your next holiday, there are a few things you need to take into consideration.
We all want to be impulsive and then our wallets remind us to relax and sit down. Let’s face it, most of us don’t have the luxury of deciding on a whim to go away every other weekend. Holidays, like most things in life, should be calculated as part of your annual budget. If your monthly salary allows you to save a sufficient amount every month, allocate a certain amount of those savings into your holiday piggy bank. You don’t necessarily have to decide where you want to go for that well deserved breakaway, so not all spontaneity is lost.
If you prefer playing it safe and you’re not one for spontaneity, choose your destination wisely. You might want to do some research regarding your destinations’ peak season. During peak season you might fall victim to tourist traps and see accommodation prices, and sometimes even shop and restaurant prices, shoot through the roof. Finding affordable accommodation can become quite tricky during peak season. Tourist hotspots, like coastal areas, tend to be choc-a-block during school holidays – yes, sometimes it feels like you are the only one living from month-to-month. Avoid the rush and daylight robbery by taking time off from work during off-peak seasons. If responsibilities like kids or prescribed leave periods limit you to school holidays and peak seasons, try alternative, less popular locations. You’ll be surprised how many gems our beautiful country has to offer. Unleash and embrace your inner, intrepid explorer.
Choosing the right type of accommodation can also greatly affect your budget. Sure, we all want to stay in a posh hotel or guest house and sip drinks next to sparkling pool while being fanned with palm tree leaves. Self-catering units are usually a lot cheaper, especially if you are travelling in a bigger group. These units also offer more in terms of braai facilities, equipped kitchens and such. You will be able to save more money if you can cook or braai for yourself and your family instead of dining out every night – you still need some budget left to get you home at the end of your trip.
As soon as the piggy has been cracked and you’ve decided on a holiday destination, be sure to set up a basic but proper itinerary. You don’t have to plan every day down to the last minute, but this will also assist you with your budget. Whether your destination of choice offers water sports, sightseeing or any other activities, find out what the cost of these activities will be beforehand. This way, you can allocate enough funds to your budget and avoid over spending while working on that tan.
Now that you’ve planned your getaway, there is one last thing you need to sort out. Getting there. Compare different travelling options to see which method of transport will be the cheapest. If you are travelling on your own within our beautiful country, it might make more sense, depending on the destination of course, to use public transport to get to your destination. Except for the cost of fuel, you might also want to add the cost of wear and tear on your car and toll gate costs to your budget calculations. If you’re a one man wolf pack, travelling by plane, bus or train might be your cheapest option. If your destination is a bit closer to home or doesn’t have a nearby airport, consider sharing your travel plans with friends and family. They might know of someone travelling in the same direction over the same time period. Adding a travel buddy to your calculations can half your travel costs and makes travelling saver and more fun.
Here is to hoping that this article proved to be insightful to all those newbie travellers and even the seasoned ones. Your updated holiday check-list should include setting up (and sticking to) a budget, choosing the right destination during off-peak seasons and how you will get there. Keep in mind that self-catering accommodation is usually cheaper, especially if you are travelling in a group, and that setting up an itinerary can help you stay within your budget. Lastly, take lots of pictures, travel safe, wear sunscreen and remember to have fun.